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Everything posted by Kinkajou

  1. A bit late to the party - but not only do I see taking choice away as largely immoral in general, but I think the plan dictated in this thread would lead to animal deaths any way around it. Livestock would have to have their numbers drastically reduced, in order to maintain profits (and avoid issues like lots of methane), and it's a death sentence to every domesticated carnivore - Cats, Dogs, Ferrets... Dead. Cats and Ferrets especially are obligate carnivores. Taurine is a compound that is necessary and only found in meat - and we as humans can produce it ourselves - but cats can't. Lack of taurine will cause irreversible blindness, as well as cardiovascular problems. This is why many people involved in animal welfare protest the forcing of pets onto vegan diets. Because in the name of saving one animal, you kill another. We are not the only consumers of livestock, after all. I feel that's something that people who claim to be animal lovers forget. Though I assume from the "freedom" talk, perhaps there is an anti-pet agenda, too? I know PeTA in particular is ultimately anti-pet and would like to see domestic species eradicated from the planet entirely. I also want to point out that PLENTY of meat is raised in wide open spaces. Out where I live, where land is not at all arable for crops (other than alfalfa), cows are raised on acres and acres of rangeland, living as herds. Range-fed beef is a kind of food that is sustainable in my region, where vegetables and fish are not - there are high shipping costs, low quality, and just generally not the kind of stuff you want to eat. I'll take eating a local animal over the ecological costs of shipping oranges from hundreds of miles away. I also am concerned for those in poverty. There is a REASON people in poverty eat fast food and pre-prepped food, and it's not just money. Imagine you are a single mother of two - and you just got back from working your third job of the day. The kids are hungry. You have two choices - either take the long effort of making a noodle dish or vegetable dish for your kids (and minimize what little time you can spend with them), or take them out to eat super-processed chicken nuggets, not have to deal with the effort of prep after your long day, spend more precious time with your kids, and do it for the same cost. If you are a person in poverty like that - you don't typically stop to think about how crowded the chicken house was. (We remember that battery cages aren't used for meat chickens, right? Only for eggers. Eating chickens are not raised in cages.) Five pounds isn't much to a middle-class citizen for a vitamin supplement. For those in real need - Africa, Asia, South America? ...That's an entire week's salary. They already have MASSIVE problems with getting necessary protein. It's why they now have start-up rabbitry programs sometimes - rabbits have incredible protein content, little fat, are easy raise, easy to slaughter nigh-painlessly, and can provide other uses, too (Probably why I'm okay with rabbit fur if it comes from a domestic animal used for meat AND fur - about the same ethical problems as leather). And I say all this as a rabbit owner, ex-rabbit breeder, and rabbit lover. Because they could help solve world hunger. I'll also note that welfare is CONSTANTLY improving in the meat industry. I suggest taking a look into who Temple Grandin is. She has, as one autistic woman, revolutionized the industry - less stress on animals, fewer problems, safer methods - animals that feel happier. New methods are used so animals feel incredibly little pain as they are slaughtered. Most fast food places actually require that slaughterhouses follow her welfare systems in order to have meat purchased from them. I think that's the way to fix the meat industry the best - give the money to those that are producing the most humane meat. And honestly, what little of that has been done has increased the welfare standards in the meat industry A LOT. It's a reward system for being good to the animals.
  2. Kept all my biology books. Especially for the variant courses like Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy or Ethology. In the past I found used textbooks for courses I don't have the ability to take for like two or three dollars and I've bought those. Conservation Biology makes for fun reading.
  3. Too bad elephants like that are trained. Untrained elephants mostly produce squiggles and blobs. Not any more impressive to me than a bird who can recite lines or a dolphin doing flips. Honestly, the innate abilities of bowerbirds are more impressive. That's more a testament to the elephant's dexterity and training than anything. Now, the spacial memory of squirrels -- that's impressive. Could you remember the location of 200+ small objects you buried four months after the fact?
  4. My professor for a History of Life class (a paleontologist) this last semester is nigh-certain Mars once had life, and that starting life is simple, and maintaining it is the hard part. His hypothesis: Free oxygen predominantly comes from autotrophs. Other sources, like volcanic outgassing, are minimal, and would be soaked up by rocks straight away. Mars is COVERED in red beds - red rocks full of iron oxides. We only see banded iron formations and red beds on earth deposited about the same time that autotrophs were oxygenating the atmosphere. And they are one of the most significant indicators of when exactly the Great Oxygenation Event happened. Nothing short of a massive amount of autotrophs coming about could create the free oxygen levels that are required for red beds on Earth - as none are found beforehand. The question is - if not life - what could have oxygenated Mars to the point where it is COVERED in red rocks? Obviously some sort of crisis happened after the fact to change the atmosphere radically, but before that? I've just heard no other theories for an oxidized Mars that make nearly as much sense as this does. Life doesn't have to be complex to be there, after all. I'm talking something cyanobacteria-like. Something had to make Mars rusty - other theories about water vapor creating it don't make too much sense to me - Earth had oceans long before it had red beds. Plenty of water, yet no sizable amounts of iron oxide until the oxygenation event. I'm not in the least bit saying that Mars had anything more intelligent than an autotrophic bacteria-like organism, but it's the theory that makes the most sense to me. Takes a lot of oxygen to make that much iron oxide.
  5. I spend most of my time in the animal behavior field. Somebody define "Consciousness". Are we talking about if an individual animal passes a mirror test? Robots vs Humans? Because I have a hard time buying that animals are instinctual automatons. Yeah, most invertebrates probably operate primarily on instinct. But I cannot watch video of a bowerbird building it's nest and thinking this animal is simply a robot placing flowers where it's brain tells it to. I think that the brain is a lot more "squishy" than thinking in numbers. Brains are incredibly good at pattern recognition, for sure - and different animals have different "intelligences" (Squirrels have astounding spacial memory, for instance), but I think many things are decided less by complex unconcious mental math and that are instead thoughts and feelings (argue that this is the brain hiding its own thought processes, I suppose). Descartes thought animals were simple automatons - robots unable to have emotions, personalities, or even feel pain. I think the field of ethology is well beyond that now. For me, occam's razor suggests a peahen eyeing a male or a bowerbird building his bower are operating on ideas of aesthetics and simply just being attracted, much as we are. And an animal who grieves over the loss of one of it's companions isn't doing mental math to show disappointment that now they'll be less successful on the hunt. I think it's emotion together with logic that create the best decision making. And I think it's a simpler explanation than "This Peahen is calculating her best mate based on parasite load and how this male will give her attractive sons to further her genetic line" when we accept "That woman is flirting with that man because he is aesthetically attractive to her". Instincts, emotions, and consciousness are all sort of the same thing. Emotions are instincts (like, for instance, to seek out facial symmetry) simplified. It's a softer, more squishy system than hard math - and that leads to more variation, and there's nothing biology loves more than a good bit of variation. All of us do illogical things sometimes - sometimes we're better for it. Mostly I'm commenting because I think restricting the discussion to humans is a bit silly - dogs exhibit better theory of mind than many Autism Spectrum Disorder children. And in some cases, like following sight lines, dogs better than other apes do. Trying to separate humans from everything else is always an exercise in futility. I mean now we recognize that octopuses and crows make tools, and that used to be our "distinction". And I'm certainly not buying Descartes's ideas on consciousness. Animals are more like us than not. I guess I can buy mirror tests as a way of determining bodily self-consciousness, but the argument that "Animals don't commit suicide, hence they're not conscious" is reaching. Reaching far. There are metrics already in place in the animal behavior community that make a lot more sense - things like mirror tests or how animals modulate behavior based on the situations they're in (playing gently versus for-real fighting).
  6. My paleontology professor this last semester said he'd probably be there opening day. He could care less for the incorrect carnivores (and the anachronisms), but loves the celebration of extinct life and paleontology. Granted, his specialty is conodonts and invert fossils. far from the more impressive tetrapods everybody thinks about when they think "paleontologist". But if they did a remake with feathers... Granted, I know some folks who are terribly offended at the idea of T. rex being feathered (let alone a scavenger), because it ruins their childhood daydreams of Big Scary Dinosaurs. I think people like that should probably go see if a cassowary gonna be nice because it has feathers. I also like squashing their dreams of dimetrodon-as-dinosaur. Much like movies about the Medieval period, it's fact soaked in fiction to make it palatable to the masses. Doesn't mean those who see the inaccuracies can't enjoy it. Lion King doesn't ruin my sense of disbelief (too much) because they made the mistake of adding leaf-cutting ants and anteaters - still enjoyable.
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